Using synthetic mouse spike-in transcripts to evaluate RNA-seq analysis tools

Dena Leshkowitz, Ester Feldmesser, Gilgi Friedlander, Ghil Jona, Elena Ainbinder, Yisrael Parmet, Shirley Horn-Saban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


One of the key applications of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies is RNA-Seq for transcriptome genome-wide analysis. Although multiple studies have evaluated and benchmarked RNA-Seq tools dedicated to gene level analysis, few studies have assessed their effectiveness on the transcript-isoform level. Alternative splicing is a naturally occurring phenomenon in eukaryotes, significantly increasing the biodiversity of proteins that can be encoded by the genome. The aim of this study was to assess and compare the ability of the bioinformatics approaches and tools to assemble, quantify and detect differentially expressed transcripts using RNA-Seq data, in a controlled experiment. To this end, in vitro synthesized mouse spike-in control transcripts were added to the total RNA of differentiating mouse embryonic bodies, and their expression patterns were measured. This novel approach was used to assess the accuracy of the tools, as established by comparing the observed results versus the results expected of the mouse controlled spiked-in transcripts. We found that detection of differential expression at the gene level is adequate, yet on the transcript-isoform level, all tools tested lacked accuracy and precision.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0153782
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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